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Negotiations Update

HEA Negotiations Update – October 16, 2020

HEA Members:

First, the bargaining team wants to thank each and every one of you for all that you have done this fall to continue to make the Helena School District a great place to learn. The extra hours that you have spent on your classes, overcoming the frustrating technology components, and learning new platforms has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by the Union! You are the most valuable component to the school system. Thank you!


We have started this school year working under our 2019-2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement. HEA and HSD have come to a tentative agreement on much of the language pieces of the CBA, and we believe that the changes will be beneficial to teachers. While the HEA team presented a number of salary options this spring, nothing has been accepted by the district. We have waited almost 8 weeks for a response to our last rejected offer.


We are now working in a smaller group format to try to jump start the negotiations. At the bargaining table, the district is represented by their attorney, Bea Kaleva. While the entire HEA negotiations team is involved in every conversation prior to and after each meeting, the Union is represented at the table by President Jane Shawn, Adam Clinch, and MFPE Field Consultant Larry Nielsen.


Monday September 28--the district presented HEA with a salary proposal via email. Points from the proposal:

· A three-year deal

· $1,000 in bonus money each year

· Continue with the PCAP scale, with no cost of living adjustment (COLA) to the scale

· Frozen at Step 6 with a BA only--$48,345 (must earn 30 college credits to move on)

· Frozen at Step 15 with a BA+30 college credits--$63,904 (must earn an MA or NBC in order to move on)

· Frozen at Step 20 with a MA or an NBC--$71,653 (must earn the other or 45 college credits to move on)

· Can only move to Step 21-24 with a MA + NBC, or MA + 45 college credits, or NBC + 45 college credits ($73,003-77,053), or by developing a district approved plan that shows you are moving towards one of these combinations

· APETS Stipends stay the same (basically $1000 or $2000 per stipend)

· No one would be “grandfathered” into moving on the scale, folks would be “frozen according to the barriers” immediately (but no one would have to move down on the scale)

· No Career Development Plan

· 2 Professional Service Commitments, one assigned by the district/building administration, the other employee choice from an approved district list. Change in due date to May 1st of the previous year (new educators October 1). “Nothing in this provision is grievable.”

· Stay on the top of the matrix for four years, can only take advantage of the retirement incentive in the CBA if you give two years notice and retire prior to the 5th year at the top of the matrix. If you stay into 5th year, no retirement incentive.


Wednesday, September 30--the HEA Bargaining team met. We agreed that there was nothing in this offer for teachers, with the possible exception of not having to complete the CDP. Everything else was not affording us the professional compensation and the professional distinction that we are due. Nor did it acknowledge those of us who have spent years in the district with salary promises made to us for our loyalty.


Wednesday, October 7--HEA/HSD were at the bargaining table. We went through the proposal and brought up the following points, which Bea responded to:

· HEA is reluctant to agree to a 3-year deal with this offer. Hopefully we can get to two years. One year is not really in anyone’s best interest.

· The cost out the district gave HEA includes additional staff hired for COVID, and keeps them in the cost out for the next four years. The district is not confident that we will reduce the number of staff next year, which may be so, but HEA believes that we should go back to our pre-COVID staff by at least year 3. HEA also is not convinced that the staffing model the district has implemented, especially at elementary school, is either the “best practice” model, and certainly not the most “cost-effective” model. The cost out model does not recognize that there are teachers that will retire, and replacements will come in on a lower salary. Therefore, HEA disagrees with the figures in the cost out model presented.

· There is no “new” retirement incentive on the table, as the district said they do not have the money to front the incentive. HEA pointed out that there is money in the reserve budget.

· The district and HEA is in disagreement about what a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) is. The district believes that your step increase is a COLA. HEA believes that your step increase is earned through the work that you do through your CDP, PSC, your positive evaluation, and your longevity and loyalty to the district. HEA believes that a COLA is an adjustment to the entire salary scale used to battle the effects of inflation in order to ensure your step increase actually increases your standard of living.

· The district would consider professional development in addition to educational credits for movement on the pay scale.

· The district would will be willing to move the BA only barrier to Step 10 as opposed to Step 6.

· PSCs--the district is willing to permit teachers to pick both, but from a list generated by the District, and in a “first come, first serve” capacity.


Wednesday, October 7--the HEA Bargaining met to go over the gist of the morning meeting and agreed to a few things:

· Introduce the concept of a traditional step and lanes scale as a way to overcome the “unsustainability” of PCAP.

· Within this steps and lanes scale, work within the district framework of barriers.

· Discuss a transition plan for current teachers.

· HEA wanted to see the list of PSCs—and we would never agree to something being “not grievable.”

· We will not be able to have a salary scale with no COLAs ratified by our membership.


October 11, 2020—HEA and HSD met at the bargaining table. Points from that meeting:

· We discussed the district’s model: people are being moved on the scale that we got, but that is not in the language. Again, HEA needs a real cost-out, showing retirees, new hires, and the lack of COVID teachers.

· HEA asked what the district thought the incentive is to teachers to ratify a proposal that not only freezes the scale but also puts barriers into it, with the only concession by the district is to forego the CDP. We know there is money that is not budgeted (the reserve budget) but the district will not use that money. Bea replied that the incentive to teachers was that the “district would not start cutting staff.”

· We discussed a traditional steps and lanes model, which would put barriers in, but would also dictate a COLA for all steps and lanes (not just the base). Adam presented a “sample” steps and lanes model for Bea to take back to the district for consideration.

· We discussed the costs of “transitioning” to a new scale. There are costs associated with a transition—Jane said that there was money to allocate to this, specifically the reserve budget. Bea said that the district will not take money from the reserve.

· We discussed the PSCs and HEA asked what would motivate a teacher do a PSC (much less two!) when they can’t move on the salary scale. (The district cannot make a teacher do something off contract time even though they are salaried employees.). Bea made the argument that the district can’t afford to pay people to do PSC’s at the $20/hour stipend, nor can they afford sub costs to do PSCs during contract hours. Again, the district saw the incentive or motivation was to “not cut staff.”

· Again, Bea said that the district was unwilling to spend any money that would have to come from the reserve. Jane asked what the reserve was for: “I understood that was for a rainy day and my point is that it is not raining, it’s pouring,” and the district needs to do something to show teachers that they value us, that they understand what we are going through, and that we have been “giving” for years, and now they need to show how much the district values us.


The next bargaining table meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 21.

The HEA bargaining team will meet prior to the October 21 meeting.

This is a lot of information we have given you. Now that negotiations are moving again, we will post an update when there is new information. Please know that the team continues to keep the interests of our members as our central mission. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

The HEA Negotiations Team

President Jane Shawn, Adam Clinch, Joanne Didriksen, Kelly Elder, Shanna Kimball, Erika McMillin, Jonna Schwartz, and Jacob Warner

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